On Tuesday, the Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS) began an online petition drive urging the United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken to shorten the lengthy waiting list for various forms of American visas that are being given from India.
The US-based diaspora stated while launching the petition, “We request the State Department, Secretary of State Mr Anthony Blinken and the US embassies in India to eliminate wait times for visa appointments in India.”
The FIIDS further highlighted, “Even after a two-year-long Covid-era pause in visa appointments at the US embassies in India, the visa appointment situation is far from normal.” It added that the required waiting period depends on the type of visa which ranges from 300 to 900 days. Pointing the difference with India, the diaspora noted that the waiting period for US consulates in China is only three days on average.
US visa for Indians
According to reports published on October 31 by travel.state.gov, there is an average waiting period of more than 900 days for appointments for visitor visas (B1/B2), a wait time of 400 days for students, and a waiting time of 300 days for petition-based temporary employees across all US consulates in India which includes Mumbai, New Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai, and Kolkata, FIIDS stressed.
In the petition on Change.Org, FIIDS claimed that they have been urging Secretary Blinken and the US State Department to address this matter. According to FIIDS, in addition to being crucial for US interests, doing it will be the right thing on moral and humanitarian grounds.
It is pertinent to mention that the more than 900-day postponement has a negative influence on the quality of life of Indian Americans and Indian immigrants living in the US as it is preventing them from visiting their relatives during times of celebration, need or difficulty.
US visa waiting time
According to FIIDS, the over 300-day waiting time is having an adverse effect on the efficiency and success of various businesses and industries due to a shortage of qualified workers. The 400+ day waiting period affects students enrolling in US colleges as well as universities, which has an adverse effect on both the student’s future and the US universities.
Besides this, the petition added, “As per Reuters news on 27 September, the Secretary of State blamed the lack of resources and funding due to lost revenues from fees on this ‘self-financed program.”
Referring to this, FIIDS stated that they have requested the relevant authorities to take all necessary action and seek emergency funding to clear this backlog. “We are eager to assist in any way possible and will forge a coalition of individuals who will rise to the occasion to assist in mitigating this issue,” it added.
Meanwhile, the US reopened its borders for many vaccinated international travellers on November 8, 2021, after the suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic.